02 February 2012
I was collecting zucchini in the garden when Sam shouted my name at the top of his lungs. I thought he wanted a favor, but in fact, he wanted to show me the hedgehog he spotted in the chicken yard. I grabbed the camera from the house and the boys followed, Nico exclaiming, "I love hedgies!"
Lui said, "He's an old fella. You can tell because he's big and kind of slow and his face is going grey."
At first, Sam wasn't sure about the hedgehog. He thought they might have barbed quills like a porcupine. He was stroking it with a stick before the boys told him it is safe to handle them.
We only pestered it for a few minutes. Lui said the chickens might peck its eyes out, and decided the hedgie would be safer in the flax. A few feet into his attempt at transport, however, the hedgehog puffed up and rolled out of his hands. Then it scurried under a flax bush and watched us as we said goodbye.
There are no native hedgehog species in the US, so I truly appreciated this encounter. There are also no native hedgehogs in New Zealand, but with no real predators, this introduced critter has become an established species. They're a bit of a pest, eating native insects and lizards, but they are usually seen as less of a pest than the possums introduced from Australia.
Cutest pests I ever saw.